Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Biggest Political Scandal In Utah History Results In Arrest Of Two Former Attorneys General

It's being described as the biggest political scandal in Utah history. State authorities in Salt Lake City yesterday arrested two of the state's most recent former attorneys general, John Swallow (R) and Mark Shurtleff (R), and charged both of them with multiple counts of public corruption charges, including bribery, accepting gifts, receiving money as a pattern of unlawful activity, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, making false statements and misuse of public money. Although the complex investigation was aided by the FBI, the Obama Justice Department refused to allow federal prosecutors in the case to pursue the case in federal court, presumably because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is tied to the corruption investigation, along with Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R).

You could call it the Mormon mafia as Swallow, Shurtleff, Reid and Lee are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Earlier this year, a House Special Investigative Committee Report tied Sen. Lee and his campaign fundraising activities to Swallow, who allegedly created a network of political action committees intended to launder and hide hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars received from the payday loan industry in which Swallow formerly worked. Sen. Reid's name has surfaced in connection with his financial and political relationships with the online poker industry. Both Swallow and Shurtleff maintain the investigation of them is a political witch hunt by a local Democratic prosecutor in Salt Lake.

Shurtleff and Swallow are accused of accepting gifts from a businessman, Jeremy Johnson, seeking to handle financial transactions for the online poker industry. Swallow is accused of destroying evidence of his role in a $250,000 payment made by Johnson to enlist the support of Sen. Harry Reid to block a federal investigation of the man's business. Johnson was previously charged by the feds with 86 counts in relation to his involvement in the online poker industry. Shurtleff and Johnson are both accused of staying for free in a Newport Beach villa owned by Marc Jenson, while the state attorney general's office was negotiating a plea deal in a securities case involving Jenson. Shurtleff also dismissed a massive mortgage fraud suit filed against Bank of America by his office while negotiating a new job at a law firm which represented Bank of America.

I always thought Sen. Harry Reid was a real life version of Sen. Geary's character in The Godfather, as epitomized by this scene where the senator tried to shake down Michael Corleone for a share of his interest in Nevada casinos.


Flogger said...

Seems that another Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is in a spot of trouble. From Huff Post, Quinn is, "facing questions about a now-defunct anti-violence program he started in the run-up to his 2010 election after a state audit found funds were misused."

Republicans, "have alleged Quinn used money from the $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative as a political slush fund to secure votes in predominantly minority neighborhoods of heavily Democratic Chicago in a tight race."

A political slush fund to secure minority votes has a familiar ring to it.

I grew up in Cook County, Illinois so I am familiar with these spats between the Republicans and Democrats. These turf fights sometimes serve a useful purpose. Once in a while some politicians and their fixers go to jail. Ald. Thomas E. Keane once second to the Elder Mayor Daley went to jail. Otto Kerner another Illinois Governor went to jail.

Rarely if ever are there any similar spats between Republicans and Democrats in Indiana. It seems the Republicans and Democrats have a cease fire in place in Indiana. Thus, the impression is given that corruption and crony-capitalism stops at the state line.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If the scandal should sink Quinn, the Democrats' bases are covered in the governor's race. They invaded the GOP primary and nominated a wealthy businessman, Bruce Rauner, who is that close to Rahm Emanuel, and who has a lot of questionable past business transactions haunting him.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it Attorneys General?

Gary R. Welsh said...

That's better. Thanks.